Nov
23
2010

NYT and the Fake Taliban Talks

If you had concluded that the Afghan War was in disarray, the front page of the New York Times today probably didn't do much to change your mind: Taliban Leader in Secret Talks Was an Impostor By DEXTER FILKINS and CARLOTTA GALL KABUL, Afghanistan â┚¬” For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement. But now, it turns […]

Mar
11
2010

Kennedy: Media's 'Despicable' Afghanistan Coverage

Yesterday (3/10/10) there was a Housefloor debate on Rep. Dennis Kucinich's push to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Kucinich's bill–which isbased onthe War Powers Act–was defeated, but it sparked hours of rare discussion of the White House's war policy(in spite of the Washington Post's efforts tominimize the discussion as left-wing "venting"). The most dramatic moment came when Rep. Patrick Kennedychastised the press corps for skipping out on the discussion: "There's two press people in this gallery…. We're talking about Eric Massa 24-7 on the TV, we're talking about war and peace, $3 billion, 1,000 lives and no press? No press." He […]

Mar
09
2010

Washington Post and Afghan War Critics

Sometimes the words journalists choose are revealing. Take the lead of a story in the Washington Post today (3/9/10) about congressional debate on the Afghanistan War: Liberals in the House, who have spent much of the past year complaining that other congressional Democrats and the White House are insufficiently progressive, will get a chance this week to vent about one of their biggest concerns: the war in Afghanistan. To say that lawmakers are "venting" is a short way of saying that they're wastingtime with pointless complaining. And what are they whining about, anyway?Nothing special–just whether or not the war complies […]

Feb
23
2010

To the NYT, Advocates of Killing More Civilians Are Something to Seek Out

Salon's Glenn Greenwald has had a couple of posts (2/18/10, 2/22/10) on a New York Times op-ed (2/18/10) that urged the U.S. to not worry so much about killing civilians in Afghanistan. The piece was written by Lara M. Dadkhah, who is vaguely identified as an "intelligence analyst" and who notes that she is "employed by a defense consulting company." Greenwald's second post reports that Dadkhah actually works for Booz Hamilton, a very well-connected military and intelligence contractor. Greenwald quotes from a response that media critic Charles Kaiser got from Times op-ed editor David Shipley when he asked about Dadkhah's […]

Feb
16
2010

NYT Documents NATO's Concern for Civilian Casualties

From one of today's New York Times stories (2/16/10) about the NATO/U.S. campaign in Marja, Afghanistan (emphasis added): The heavy civilian toll highlighted the stressful and confusing nature of the fighting, especially in Marja, and of the difficulties inherent in conducting military operations in a guerrilla war, where insurgents can hide easily among the population. Still, the deaths are troubling to the American and NATO commanders, who have made protecting civilians the overriding objective of their campaign–even when doing so comes at the expense of letting insurgents get away. The stream of news releases flowing from NATO headquarters detailing the […]

Dec
15
2009

Can't She Be a Little Nicer, Though?

On Sunday (12/13/09), the New York Times Book Review offered a brief take on Malalai Joya's A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice. Times reviewer Marc Tracy seemed to like the book OK, with a few notable caveats: Joya's arguments, we're told, "have earned the plaudits of people like Noam Chomsky, [and] are sometimes extreme, simplistic and misguided, but they are rarely without a grain of truth." It's hard to tell what the "grain of truth" might be, but throwing Chomsky's name into the mix seems to be a sign to […]

Dec
07
2009

Dana Milbank and the Church of Obama

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank (12/6/09) thinks there's something wrong with left-wing critics of Barack Obama.As his lead put it: Some parishioners in the Church of Obama discovered last week that their spiritual leader is a false prophet. Milbank startswith Michael Moore, who wrote an open letter urging Obama not to escalate the Afghanistan war.This makes no sense to Milbank, since Obama never said he'd withdraw troops.Well, yes. I suspect many of Obama's critics–maybeeven Michael Moore–are aware of that.Moore also supports single-payer healthcare, and wishes Obama would too. Does that mean that continuing that advocacy with Obama in the White […]

Dec
04
2009

Joe Klein: Obama No Reagan

Time columnist Joe Klein (12/3/09) was not altogether impressed by Obama's announcement of a 30,000 troop escalation in Afghanistan (an "iffy proposition," as Klein put it). But Klein's main point was that Obama should have justified the war differently: "Once you have made the decision to go, or to redouble your efforts, you must lead the charge–passionately and, yes, with a touch of anger." Then he describes the better way: Ronald Reagan would have done it differently. He would have told a story. It might not have been a true story, but it would have had resonance. He might have […]

Dec
02
2009

Enter a Parallel World at WashingtonPost.com

Sometimes reading the corporate media is like receiving dispatches from an alternate universe–like the one Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan (12/02/09) lives in, where Obama "bucked overwhelming conventional wisdom" to send more troops to Afghanistan, in the face of a "stunningly large number of American thinkers, strategists and pundits who have been perfectly prepared to lose wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan." The version of Obama who was elected U.S. president on Kagan's Earth-2 realized that he "might be applauded for losing in the salons of Washington and New York, the American public would not look on defeat so kindly," […]

Dec
01
2009

Still Upset About Obama's Dithering

A meeting of the minds between NBC host Chris Matthews and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius (Chris Matthews Show, 11/29/09): IGNATIUS: The long period of analysis, very deliberative, robs this of passion. This is–he was going to be a wartime president now, and he has to sell the country on the idea that our young men and women are going to go there, fight and get killed. MITCHELL: Yes. IGNATIUS: And, you know, I think this, you know, this is not going to…. MATTHEWS: So too much Chamberlain, not enough Churchill. IGNATIUS: Well, too much–too much college professor.

Nov
18
2009

Post Polling, Afghanistan (Again)

The Washington Post reports its latest polling on the Afghanistan war, and once again have managed to put together a baffling question that seems intended to muddy up the debate over a troop surge. The lead and headline("Poll Finds Guarded Optimism on Obama's Afghanistan Plan") stress the idea that the public still seems to have faith in the White House. But the strangest part comes when the paper asked people about sending in more troops. As the Post's write-up explains: Asked to choose between a larger influx of troops to fight Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and train the Afghan military, […]

Nov
02
2009

An Occupation by Any Other Name

Afghan activist and politician Malalai Joya has been in the U.S. to discuss her book A Woman Among Warlords. As noted by Eric Garris at Antiwar.com, Joya's was treated very differently byCNN than by CNN International. Specifically, Joya's mention of the military occupation of her country seemed to offend CNN host Heidi Collins (10/28/09): Again, "occupation" would certainly be your word. A lot of people would take great issue with you calling the U.S. presence in Afghanistan in your country an" occupation." It's not clear to whom Collins is referring when she speaks of people who would take "great issue" […]

Oct
29
2009

You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Argue That the Afghan War Prevents Terror–But It Helps

Dick Morris was on the O'Reilly Factor the other night (10/28/09) advocating a troop escalation in Afghanistan–and his argument was characteristically peculiar: Listen, terrorist gangs like Al-Qaeda are like HIV virus. They swim in your bloodstream. They don't make you sick. When they latch on to a cell, a nation state, and they use the DNA of that cell, they then become a threat. When they use the accoutrements of nationhood–secure boundaries, a diplomatic corps, an export and import trade, and air force and navy, a tax system, a conscript population–then they can knockdown the World Trade Center. We have […]